Valuing the Future - Why Climate Change Agreement is Hard
The two week long Paris conference on climate change seems to drag on interminably. There are obviously many reasons why such summits find it difficult to reach meaningful agreements. But a fundamental one is that the electorates of the West are being asked to bear substantial costs right here and now, in return for a stream of benefits which will only become apparent well into the future. Closer to home, we see similar issues with major infrastructure projects such as the new airport runway in London and the high speed rail project HS2. We pay for them upfront, and the gains appear later.